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Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have a collapsed or blocked airway that prevents them from getting enough air into their lungs while they sleep. They may snore, wake up frequently during the night, experience daytime sleepiness and/or have difficulty concentrating. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can also contribute to more serious health issues, such as high blood pressure.

The most common treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP, a machine with a mask that you wear at night, delivers a steady, gentle flow of pressurized air to help keep your airway open while you sleep.

For people with obstructive sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP, upper airway stimulation therapy (e.g., Inspire therapy) may offer an innovative alternative. It is a surgically-implanted system that monitors your unique breathing patterns and provides just enough stimulation to contract the throat muscles to keep your airway open.

Sleep surgeons at Rush have the expertise to pinpoint the cause of your obstructive sleep apnea and determine the right treatment for you, whether it's CPAP, upper airway stimulation therapy or another procedure. Learn more about sleep surgery options at Rush.

How does upper airway stimulation work?

  • Inspire Therapy for Obstructive Sleep ApneaA sleep surgeon implants a small stimulator attached to two flexible leads under the skin in your right upper chest. One of the leads continuously monitors your breathing, while the other lead delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles to keep your airway open. 
  • The procedure is done under general anesthesia.
  • Most patients go home the next day after their surgery.
  • The system is controlled by a small remote device, which you turn on before you go to sleep and turn off when you awaken.
  • Your sleep doctor can adjust the level of stimulation needed to keep your airway open.

Benefits of upper airway stimulation therapy

  • Significant reduction in airway obstruction
  • Improved daytime concentration and functioning
  • Better quality of life
  • Dramatic decrease in snoring

Is upper airway stimulation therapy right for me?

You may be a candidate for upper airway stimulation therapy if the following statements are true:

  • You are at least 22 years old
  • You have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 33
  • You have been diagnosed with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea
  • You have struggled with or not benefitted from CPAP therapy
  • You do not have medical conditions that would make any surgery risky

For more information about upper airway stimulation therapy, please call (312) 942-7878 to speak with one of our clinical specialists.

Why choose Rush for upper airway stimulation therapy

  • Experience you can trust: Sleep specialists at Rush have expertise diagnosing and treating a full range of conditions that cause both central and obstructive sleep apnea — from the common to the most complex. They will work together, and with you, to address the problem and improve your sleep.
  • Innovative treatments: Specialists in the Section of Sleep Surgery at Rush are among the first in the U.S. to offer upper airway stimulation therapy (e.g., Inspire therapy). This implantable device may be a good option for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy.